The action continues – Di Resta wins thrilling second race
Once again, the 24 drivers provided high-class competition at the 4.574 kilometres long circuit. The action of the first DTM weekend of the season thrilled the 78,500 spectators, who were treated to great action in both races. On Sunday, they got to see the first victory for Mercedes-Benz at the Hockenheimring in almost four years: Paul Di Resta scored an undisputed lights-to-flag victory and not even the reinvigorated BMWs were able to stop him. The drivers of the brand from Munich put in a remarkable team performance and brought six of the cars home in the top ten. Timo Glock and Augusto Farfus led the BMW armada, finishing in second and third place respectively. Audi lost out big time on Sunday: four of its cars retired and Nico Müller was the only Audi driver to make it into the top ten, finishing eighth. Gary Paffett showed the most spectacular performance, but an error by his team during the pit stop and the subsequent drive-through penalty prevented him from scoring a better result than his fifth-place finish.
It doesn’t take much time to tell the story of Di Resta’s race to victory. The pole-sitter had an excellent start and pulled clear from his rivals after a few metres already. A safety car intervention in the opening stages couldn’t stop the Scot either. After the safety car had left the track, Di Resta only needed one lap to build up another advantage of almost two seconds over his fellow Mercedes-Benz driver, Gary Paffett. Everything seemed to be going perfectly for the 2010 DTM champion, until he made his pit stop. Problems during the change of the right front wheel cost valuable seconds and he only just made it back out on track again ahead of Paffett. His rival was now eager and put Di Resta under massive pressure, until a decision by the stewards of the meeting put an end to the battle at the front of the field. “Of course, it was easier after Gary was gone, but all in all, we had a commanding win in the race here, in spite of the problems during the stop. We are simply much faster than last year, which is making me very, very happy,” said Di Resta, who eventually had a margin of over 13 seconds as he crossed the finish line.
The only driver who could have been able to challenge Di Resta today, was Paffett, who had started from third on the grid. However, his pit stop caught Paffett out. As his team gave him the signal to drive off, Paffett only just avoided a collision with fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Robert Wickens, who turned into the pit box ahead of him, by a few inches. The stewards of the meeting imposed a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release. Having his eyes set on the race lead just a few moments before, the Brit found himself down in tenth place once he had completed his penalty. Angrily, Paffett now really started pushing. Marco Wittmann, Nico Müller, Martin Tomczyk, Tom Blomqvist and Robert Wickens had no way to respond to Paffett’s attacks: within 15 laps, the blue Mercedes had worked its way up into fifth place. And Paffett wasn’t done yet, he kept pushing. All of a sudden, a podium place was within reach again. Had the race lasted another one or two laps, Paffett would perhaps have overtaken his rivals as well.
Instead of Paffett, the two BMW drivers Timo Glock and Augusto Farfus were now able to spray champagne. In a buoyant mood, Glock kissed his ‘yellow beast’, as he likes to call his BMW M4 DTM, in the finish area. “It was an extremely tough and long race. I am all the more happy that everything went well,” a relieved Glock said after scoring the fifth DTM podium finish of his career following an early retirement on Saturday. “I never thought that I would still close the gap to Augusto. When he was in front of me, I had one shot, and that was spot-on.” In spite of this move, Farfus also was very happy with his result. “Of course, I am racing to be up there on the top step, but today, the time simply hadn’t come yet. Timo simply did an excellent job, the BMW team can be very proud,” Farfus said. “Scoring a third-place finish on the opening weekend is great. An excellent start, but I want to be two places further up in the future.” Behind Farfus, Martin (fourth), Tom Blomqvist (seventh), Marco Wittmann (ninth) and Martin Tomczyk (tenth) completed a strong BMW team performance.
After two of 18 races in the 2016 season, Di Resta is leading in the drivers’ standings with his victory and his fourth place on Saturday. With 37 points, he is eleven points ahead of his fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Robert Wickens, who finished sixth after his second place on Saturday. The winner of the season-opening race, Edoardo Mortara (25 points) is third in the drivers’ standings, although he didn’t score any points with his twelfth place on Sunday. In a fortnight, the DTM is heading outside of Germany for the first time. From May 20 till 22, the entertaining battle of the 24 exceptional drivers goes into its second round at Spielberg in Austria.